A Message to Subscribers from Aaron Thielen and Terry James

An important message to our subscribers and patrons from Artistic Director Aaron Thielen and Executive Producer Terry James.

From Executive Producer Terry James: 

For 40 years I have had he honor of making the Marriott Theatre my artistic home. It all began in January of 1982, when I was cast in my first Marriott production, Fiddler on the Roof.  Eventually I would leave New York, making Chicago and the Marriott Theatre my new home. During the early 90’s I left performing and became the resident Music Director at Marriott, and soon thereafter Associate Producer. I became Executive Producer of MarriottTheatre in 2000.  It has been a glorious ride! However, it is time for me to exit stage left. (Or up an aisle in our theatre.) I have gotten to do more than I could have ever dreamt possible, so I leave with a full heart. Having been living with Multiple Sclerosis it is now time to prioritize my health.  The current season (who knew it would take three years to get through) will be my last as producer.

As I reflect, I will miss all those amazing performances throughout my time here. Thousands of incredible moments that live for just a moment in time and then are gone, only to be held in our memories and the emotional imprint it leaves behind. I will miss our incredibly supportive subscribers. Amazingly, 90% of these loyal friends have stood by us the past couple of years, assuring a successful reopening. I spoke to so many on the phone from our shuttered office during our two-year hiatus. Their ownership of this theatre was palpable and heartwarming during an incredibly difficult time for all of us.

I especially want to acknowledge a few that I have had the pleasure to work alongside with for so many years, behind the scenes, deserving of a thunderous ovation. These friends retired during my tenure, many during the pandemic, and none got the send off they deserved.  My friends Barb Kavanaugh, Box Office (30 years+), Eileen Hughes, Subscriptions (30 years+), and Nancy Vaughan, Group Sales (30 years+); my right- hand partner for a quarter century, Business Manager Margaret Newton; the great Costume Designer Nancy Missimi; longtime Designers Dianne Williams (lights) and Thomas Ryan (sets); the talented Draper, Diane Hinman; Subscription guru Lauren Johnson; the best in the biz -Michael Hendricks, Stage Manager; the greatly appreciated Lauren Iezzi, Business Manager.  And it is especially hard to leave my friend, Conductor, Patti Garwood. And special thanks to the running crews and ushers, box office crew, and the best staff in the world.

And special love to our incredible Artistic Directors for the past 40 years, Dyanne Early, Rick Boynton, Andy Hite, and Aaron Thielen. Leading their artistic teams, they created magic time and time again. We have a very small production staff with giant talents, they and our Artistic Directors have made this theatre what it is.

There are still adventures to come.  I’m really looking forward to supporting Aaron Thielen and Ryan Nelson’s burgeoning nonprofit Broadway Across Borders, and the incredible work begun in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland, Germany, and Serbia.  And of course, I look forward to seeing all that the future brings from this great theatre!  

The Marriott Theatre business model, like the theatre itself, is unique. The Bricton Group and ownership will be posting the positions for Theatre/Hotel.  I’m thankful and appreciative of Marriott International, The Bricton Group, and our ownershipfor their support of my staff and I, and of the hundreds of artists that have graced our stage, bringing millions of theatre goers to Lincolnshire.

So, thank you.  There is nothing that can adequately express how much all of this and all of you have meant to me.

With love and gratitude,


Terry James ExecutiveProducer

Marriott Theatre

From Artistic Director Aaron Thielen: 

For twenty-seven years, the Marriott Theatre has been my artistic home. During my time here, I have been afforded the amazing opportunity to listen, learn, grow, evolve, and develop not only as an artist but as a human. I always aim to create beautiful, funny, deep, powerful, and entertaining musical storytelling. I believe that as an organization we have and continue to do that at a very high level. I am very proud of that.  I’m forever grateful to my fellow actors, directors, choreographers, music directors, designers, and staff members who I have had the pleasure to collaborate with, who taught by example and have helped me become the person I am today. As Artistic Director, I have had the honor and privilege to work side by side with Terry James guiding the artistic vision of the theatre. With his announced retirement, it is the right time for me to also step aside to make room for new artistic voices and a new leadership team to shepherd the theatre into the future.

I want to thank the amazing subscribers and the millions of patrons who have come to our theatre during my time here. It is often said, but the theatre would literally not exist without you. When the pandemic forced us to close our doors for a year and a half, I knew in my heart that you would be right there to help us rebuild... and you were! Thank you for coming back and thank you in advance for continuing to support the theatre for years to come! I look forward to sitting next to you and enjoying shows at the Marriott as a theatre fan.  

Musical Theatre requires collaboration. It takes a team of dedicated artists working together to tell these stories. I deeply respect this art form and just how challenging it is to do well. I am proud ofthe hundreds of productions I’ve been associated with at the Marriott, whether I was an actor, choreographer, director, writer, or Artistic Director. I am forever grateful.

I leave the Marriott Theatre with a grateful heart and I am excited to start writing my next chapter. There is much yet to do. During the pandemic, Ryan Nelson and I created a non-profit organization called Broadway Across Borders which is based on the work we started in 2018 with the US State Department. Over the past four years, and virtually during the pandemic, we have continued to create arts educational programs and new musical stories in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland, Germany, and Serbia. We plan to continue to expand the work we are already doing to reach emerging artists around the world and offering the opportunity to learn, connect and create with other artists who bring with them their own unique language, culture, and artistic point of view. These multi-cultural collaborations have created incredibly powerful musical storytelling and we are proud that we are doing what we can to expand access and help evolve the art form.

Thank you again for twenty-seven amazing years! I will carry with me all the support you have so graciously given me, and I hope that the work that I have been a part of creating has brought you joy, happiness, and glorious escapism for two and a half hours at a time.


With a full heart,

Aaron Thielen